Innovative new ways of delivering power to rural and remote customers are being pioneered in the Esperance region.
Five solar-powered, stand-alone power systems have now been installed around Esperance as part of the restoration effort in the wake of last year's devastating bushfires.
Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Dave Grills MLC said the last of the five systems, which belonged to Cape Le Grand farmers John and Val Locke who lost powerlines and poles on their property in the November 2015 bushfires, had now been installed.
Four customers across five properties took up the opportunity to partner with Horizon Power in the WA-first project after more than 320 power poles and hundreds of kilometres of powerlines were destroyed in the bushfires.
“Horizon Power is constantly looking for better ways to deliver power to its customers in rural and remote areas,” Mr Grills said.
“Following the Esperance bushfires, the State-owned regional utility examined the optimum technology mix and identified solar-powered, stand-alone power systems as the best option for a number of farming properties.
“Such systems incorporate the latest in renewable and battery technology and mean that customers are not reliant on a traditional transmission network, which is more vulnerable to natural disasters, adverse weather and other causes of power interruptions.”
Mr Grills said the new systems will be owned and operated by Horizon Power. Customers will pay the same cost for their electricity supplied by these units as they did previously for power supplied by poles and wires.
While the units are not connected to the network, customers will receive the same service, including being able to call and rely on Horizon Power to respond to any unplanned power interruptions.
The Minister for Energy said this week that Horizon Power was working to identify other potential sites where stand-alone power systems could be a viable alternative to connecting to, or maintaining or replacing, the overhead network across its service area.
The stand-alone power systems consist of solar panels and lithium ion batteries, backed up by diesel generation.
Mr Grills said such systems offered great promise to customers and communities across the Mining and Pastoral Region.
“It’s fantastic to see Horizon Power harnessing the latest developments in renewable energy and battery storage technology in an effort to deliver more reliable and efficient power to regional customers,” he said.
“The utilisation of such technologies aligns with the priorities set out in the Royalties for Regions-supported Regional Investment Blueprints and will help energise our regions.”